After nothing but non-conference play on the first two weekends of the season, four league teams will begin their American Athletic Conference schedules this week. No. 6 Houston will head to Cincinnati to do battle with Tommy Tuberville’s Cincinnati Bearcats. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen will take their triple option attack to New Orleans, as they will tangle with Willie Fritz and the Tulane Green Wave.
Below, we take a quick look at five of the games involving American Conference teams this weekend. We will preview the other five games in our Part 2 preview on Friday!
No. 6 Houston (2-0) @ Cincinnati (2-0) (Thursday, 9/15/16)
Nippert Stadium — ESPN — 7:30 p.m.
After opening the season with a 33-23 victory over No. 3 Oklahoma, Tom Herman and Houston cruised to a 42-0 victory over FCS foe Lamar in week two. The Cougars, who were playing without injured quarterback Greg Ward, Jr., rolled up 511 yards of offense while limiting the Cardinals to only 73.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati—which was forced to win in the fourth quarter against FCS foe UT-Martin in its opener (28-7)—started quickly and captured a 38-20 win at Purdue.
UH, which defeated Cincy 33-30 last season, appears that it will have Greg Ward, Jr. available. The dual-threat threw for 321 yards against the Sooners.
The Bearcats intercepted five passes against the Boilermakers and senior safety Mike Tyson had three.
Hayden Moore, who won the UC quarterback job over Gunner Kiel, was 19-of-32 for 250 yards and three scores without throwing an interception.
The Cougars will improve to 3-0 and give themselves a shot at a Top 5 ranking in next week’s polls.
Temple (1-1) @ Penn State (1-1)
Beaver Stadium—Big 10 Network—Noon
After garnering a rare win over Penn State last season (27-10) in Philadelphia, the Owls will look to shock James Franklin and company again when they travel to State College on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions, who struggled in their opener against Kent State before pulling away down the stretch, played very well in the second half versus in-state foe Pitt; however, the Panthers’ 28-7 lead was too much to overcome.
Temple suffered a surprising 15-point loss to Army in the opener before using 3 Phillip Walker touchdown passes to top Stony Brook, 38-0, last weekend.
McSorley passed for 332 yards for Penn State, but the Nittany Lions struggled to run the football and slow down the Panthers ground attack (341 yards).
Expect this one to be competitive, but for PSU to avenge last year’s defeat.
Kansas (1-1) @ Memphis (1-0)
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium —ESPNU—Noon
A year ago, the Justin Fuente-led Tigers went to Lawrence and routed the Jayhawks, 55-23.
KU collected a rare blowout win with a 55-6 defeat of FCS foe Rhode Island in the opener before bowing to Ohio, 37-21, last week.
Memphis and first-year coach Mike Norvell received an excellent performance from signal-caller Riley Ferguson. Ferguson was 26-of-40 for 295 yards and three scores. Meanwhile, Pat Taylor, Jr. carried the ball seven times for 86 yards—including a 51-yarder.
The Jayhawks have received solid play from quarterback Montell Cozart, but they have to find a ground attack after rushing for just 26 yards against Ohio.
Memphis mauled Kansas last year and I fully expect them to win by at least two or three touchdowns again.
UVA (0-2) @ UCONN (1-1)
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field—ESPN3—1:30 p.m.
After falling into a 21-0 hole last week at Navy, the Huskies stormed back only to lose 28-24 in Annapolis.
The ground game—which is UCONN’s point of emphasis on offense since Bob Diaco’s arrival—failed to produce.
However, Bryant Shirrefs completed 23 of his 26 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown to help lead his team back.
This week, ACC foe UVA comes to town.
The Cavaliers haven’t done much right through two games. First-year coach Bronco Mendenhall and staff are searching for answers after a 37-20 loss to FCS opponent Richmond and 44-26 defeat at Oregon in which they surrendered over 300 yards rushing and passing (632 total).
Junior quarterback Kurt Benkert, a graduate transfer from East Carolina, has thrown for more than 400 yards and 5 scores. However, he has also been picked off three times—including two last week versus the Ducks.
The UCONN offense will produce enough against a porous UVA D to squeak out a non-conference home win.
North Carolina A&T (2-0) @ Tulsa (1-1)
Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium—ESPN3—2:00 p.m.
After rolling up 512 yards of offense against San Jose State, the Golden Hurricane was limited to just 188—including 61 on the ground—in its 48-3 loss to the Buckeyes.
With the game 3-3 after a quarter, it looked as though Tulsa might compete. However six turnovers—including four interceptions—led to the wheels coming off for Philip Montgomery’s club.
They will look to rebound against FCS opponent North Carolina A&T.
The Aggies enter with a 2-0 mark and will look to earn a second FBS victory in as many weeks after shocking Kent State, 39-36, in four overtimes last Saturday.
They won despite turning the ball over four times and that will have to change to have a chance in this one.
Tulsa’s offense will be too powerful and the Golden Hurricane will win this one going away.